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Rachel Carson Middle School opened on September 8, 1998 under the leadership of our first principal, Gail Womble. Planning for our school began in 1994 when Fairfax County School Board minutes record discussion of land acquisition in western Fairfax County for a middle school site. Architects originally designed Rachel Carson Middle School to accommodate 1,250 students, but Carson opened well below that with 835 students in 1998. However, the extra space was planned intentionally because school system officials recognized that the rapid development taking place at that time in western Fairfax County meant Carson would be at capacity in just a few short years. Our school colors and mascot were chosen by the first class of Carson students.
Explore the evolution of Rachel Carson Middle School in this series of aerial photographs courtesy of Fairfax County's GIS & Mapping Services.
A High-Tech Shine
In October 1998, Rachel Carson Middle School caught the attention of The Washington Post. The newspaper reported that our school opened with a high-tech shine. "There's a television studio and a radio broadcast room next to the technology labs, where seventh and eighth graders use the latest high-tech gadgetry to simulate everything from robotics to rockets. And there are computers everywhere. Each classroom has one, hooked up to a large monitor. A second computer for each classroom is on the way. The library has more than a dozen. There are four computer labs with Macs and PCs. Even the sewing lab has a computer to operate the automatic embroidering machine. All computers have high-speed Internet connections, and soon each student will have five megabytes of space on the school's central server to store homework assignments and research projects."
During the naming process for our school, two choices rose to the top of the list: Carl Sagan and Rachel Carson. A majority of the community expressed concern that there were not enough middle schools named after women, and that having the new middle school named after a female environmentalist would serve to empower girls to take up science and mathematics. On May 14, 1998, the Fairfax County School Board voted unanimously to name our school for Rachel Carson. In addition to being known as a pioneering environmentalist, Rachel Carson was an accomplished author. She wrote the novel “Silent Spring,” which warned about the dangers of pesticides. She also wrote “The Sense of Wonder,” in which Carson discussed her love of children and learning. To this day Rachel Carson Middle School strives to foster an environment of wonder, creativity, and collaboration in the spirit of Rachel Carson.